There are so many people out there searching for great leadership traits- a business owner, boss, manager, or even a parent. Regardless of your role, I’m certain on some level you’re looking how you can lead better… and what you’re finding in your search likely isn’t consistent or cohesive.
In my opinion, there is one universal thing you can work on that’s sure to improve leadership ability during those tense, stressful, and critical times in your day— and that is curbing your emotions.
On Donald Miller’s Business Made Simple show, he was quoted saying that “nothing kills your career faster than your inability to control your emotions”. When I look back at some of my biggest mistakes in leadership, they all tend to be the result of letting my emotions control my actions.
Emotions are great, but you have to be careful how you act on them, especially when you have others that look to and depend on your guidance.
Emotions and Actions Are Different
Fundamentally, you need to understand that emotions do not always require an action. The two are separate, and we should all differentiate between them. You can control your actions, but we can’t always control our emotions.
As a leader, you might have an employee that’s doing something that irritates you, that annoys you, and it’s making you feel tense. That emotion is okay! What matters is the action that happens next, as a result of that emotion. When an emotion happens that tries to trigger an action, you need to be able to acknowledge and separate those behaviors better than anyone else.
This Week’s Take Away
This week try to analyze your own habits and behavior. Identify the triggers for when your own emotions get the best of you. What are the things that really set you off? Maybe they’re related to specific employees or certain situations? It could have less to do with your team’s actions, and maybe about your landlord or even some tension from home that you carry with you to the office.
Collect these triggers and write them down.
After they’re written down, keep them in front of you. With an objective mind, plan appropriate actions in response to these triggers. Now you’ll have a plan of action for the future when one of these triggers undoubtedly occurs, except this time you’ll have a rational and non-emotional or controlled response to them.
This self-awareness is the most important trait you need to have as a leader.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have emotions, or a temper. It just means you have control over them. Being angry on purpose is one of the best tools you have as a leader. I get angry when one of my employees gets taken advantage of, maybe from a customer or a client. I get angry and I defend my team member, which is a controlled action that is an appropriate response and builds trust in my leadership.
Once you develop control mechanisms and separate the power your emotions have over your actions, you’ll start to become a more effective leader and your business will benefit.